Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Vignette)

As the Guards leave the office with Cyrus wedged between them, Kiena will watch in cold silence. She will continue to do so for almost a full minute after they’re gone and their footfalls have long since faded away. Her hands have curled into tight fists at her sides and she’s dimly aware that her nails are digging into her skin. With a grunt that is almost a growl, she forces herself to relax. Next, she forces herself to walk, stiffly, back to her chair and settle herself there. Her work remains there, spread out in front of her but she doesn’t see it. Her eyes are open but they are distant and she is struggling to shake off the numbness in her head as everything begins to sink in. By the First Egg, what in Faranth’s name just happened?

Kiena’s known that flights can bring on jealous lovers, riders and non-riders alike, but this, this was madness! Bringing her mind to focus with a sharp shake of her head, she will reach for a few sheets of blank paper and her stylus, dimly aware that her fingers are trembling and that her body is working its way through the shock of Cyrus’ confrontation. She has to focus, she has to get this done and she ignores her already exhausted state. The stylus begins to move and she begins to write the first lines, a dull scratching filling the otherwise silent offices. She starts with the official title, the date and time of the incident, and her brows knit, eyes focused inwardly, not even on the words forming beneath her fingers.

… I hereby press charges against Journeyman Mindhealer Cyrus for…

Kiena’s hand pauses and her eyes close briefly, her jaw clenched as she struggles to keep her thoughts from drifting and her emotions taking control. She can still hear his words echoing in her head. The heat and anger and hatred in his voice and her focus begins to slip, only to be wrenched back and gritting her teeth, she begins to write again in slow, measured words.

… verbal assault, slander and libel and threatening bodily harm upon a dragonrider and Weyrsecond…

Kiena pauses again to reread over her words and then continues, writing out the rest of the official charges and aware now that with each word she further condemns a man to his fate.

… The accused attempted or threatened to apply force and meant the threat to be taken seriously and I believed he had the ability to give effect to his purpose. No intentional physical contact was made between myself and the accused, but I did not consent to his being present in my office at the time of the assault. Repeated request for him to remove himself were ignored and his verbal accusations escalated further and to threats, as well as demands that I cease and desist…

Kiena’s frown deepens and her hand falters, but she pushes through the last of the official letter, conscious of every word she makes with that stylus and yet detached in the same instance.

… I did not assault, threaten or provoke the accused. Alcohol is not believe to be involved in this attack, nor did the accused have a visible weapon on his person. When he persisted and remained in my office despite my requests for him to leave, I had the Guards notified and the accused arrested and to be held in a prison cell until a later time when these charges can be…

Nearing the end of the official letter, Kiena’s writing becomes hurried. Not enough to show, but it’s as though she is unconsciously anxious to finish it and there is barely any hesitation as she signs her name at the bottom. She picks up the letter, examines it with a cold, numbed look and then sets it aside, only to begin writing a second copy. One for the Captain of the Guards, one for the Weyrleader. That will suffice for now, though she wonders if she’s forgotten anyone. The Headwoman? What of Healer Hall? Or does that fall to the Weyrleader’s duty to inform them? She can’t remember and as she begins to stress over protocol, she quickly shoves it all aside. It’ll have to do. She’ll deal with the error later, if there is any.

Kera, forgive me for what I am about to do…

Waiting on the ink to dry, Kiena sits rigidly in her chair, her eyes gazing at nothing as her mind begins to race. Suddenly it’s too quiet in the offices, the walls too close, too tight, to enclosed. She’s dimly aware of a ragged noise, not knowing it’s her own breath that is the source, now coming in shallow, short bursts. It takes considerable effort and the last of her strength to roll those letters, tie them, stamp them and call her firelizards to deliver them. Several more moments pass as she focuses her mind for the last time so they’ve an idea of where to go and whom to find. By the time they are gone, Kiena is overwhelmed and the office is suddenly too much like a trap and one that is still closing in on her. A single thought comes to mind, clear and bright and sharp: run.

Kiena stands from her chair and in quick strides she is out the door. Not once looking back at the work that still remains there, waiting for her. She starts down the hall, only to skid to a stop when voices are heard at the end and she’s quick to dart down another path evasively. It may mean a longer trip home, but the Weyrsecond is in no mood to talk, to play her part and wear her masks of composed neutrality and strength. Her priority now is to get away. To hide, to run. Her thoughts are a blur, her head filled with the replay of the confrontation, mixed with snippets of Moncerath’s flight and twisted all together with the events of the last few days, of Seryth’s accident, of all the emotional fallout and on top of it all, the weariness beginning to settle in as her insomnia returns. Gritting her teeth, Kiena keeps her head down and just pushes forwards, her steps brisk and hurried and when she reaches the pathways leading to the coastal road, she will wait until she’s certain she is alone and breaks into a loping run.

By now, Ujinath has caught on to his rider’s increasing distress. Kiena, what’s wrong? You’re upset. Who has hurt you? Kiena doesn’t answer him as she races down the paths that lead to the back of her weyr and as she comes around, she is met by her agitated and concerned blue. He storms from his wallow, wings already half unfurled and mantled in a protective but threatening display, his eyes flashing in a whirling maelstrom of fiery hues of red, yellow and orange, tail tip lashing. Yet when Kiena comes to him, he lowers his head and touches his muzzle to her in utmost tenderness, whuffling before rumbling low, some of the agitation in his posture lessening and his wings fold back to his side with a quiet rustling sound. Kiena…

Shushing him with a few soft, crooned words, Kiena will stroke the smooth hide of his muzzle before sliding past him, hurried and her anxieties still gnawing away. Almost by instinct she finds what she needs, her hands reaching for and grabbing the flight straps, leather and metal so familiar to her now she doesn’t have to focus on it. Ujinath catches on and does not protest, alarmed by his rider’s behavior but heeding her desires for now. The straps are slipped onto his body and Kiena buckles them securely, teeth gritted and mind still racing, her thoughts too snarled and tangled that even Ujinath cannot get a hold in her mind. He does protest though, when she begins to mount up with only the safety belt as equipment. No riding gear, not her helmet or her goggles. Not as reckless as flying strapless but Kiena’s drive to get away is consuming her. Kiena, please. Your gear…? Ujinath tries to persuade her, but Kiena’s response is only one fueled by need and desire so strong and upsetting that the blue makes a startled noise and flares his wings, lurching forwards as if given a shove to do so. Fly, Kiena instructs him, ignoring her blue’s prompt as to why he must but the desperation is there and her voice cracks and breaks as she insists and demands in the next cry. Fly!

Ujinath will fly, charging down to the open space of the coast before gathering himself into a hurried crouch and leap. The take off is jarring, but Kiena does not slip, only gritting her teeth and tightening her grip. She’s secured enough, though the wind soon bites through her clothes and chills her and her eyes sting and water. It doesn’t matter, she has her “freedom”. Xanadu disappears behind her as Ujinath is propelled forwards, wings beating in strong, fast and rhythmic sweeps as he veers towards the cliffs overlooking the sea. His rider’s emotions are seeping into him now and he flies, soaring and diving, no true destination in mind but careful not to go beyond the Weyr’s boundaries less they draw attention to themselves.

Kiena’s not looking to escape and run in that sense, that much is obvious to the blue and so he wheels and soars above the outskirts and allows his rider to escape into the moment. Nothing but open skies and cold wind and each other, with Kiena seeking comfort without speaking a single word. No walls here, either. No stress, no visible reminders of all that has been lost and the grief still permeating the atmosphere. No fears and insecurities, no guilt and shame and certainly no madman accusing her of being the monster she has always worried she had become, of the perversion she feels in regards to flight, even now, after all these Turns as a rider. It has always been in her head, her views and the old ones instilled in her as holderbred and to have Cyrus spit them back at her like a living mirror and reflection has shaken her to her core, despite the small voice that whispers (and she cannot tell if it’s her subconcious or Ujinath or both) that she isn’t anything like what was accused. She is not that person and never has and never will be.

Kiena, I can’t keep flying like this. Ujinath finally breaks through to his rider as he begins to dip down towards a higher elevation of ground, somewhere secluded and inaccessible by foot. Somewhere private and large enough for him to land and settle and protect Kiena from whatever dangers have upset her so greatly. Once he lands, Kiena has snapped from her panic, the flight having given her the outlet she needed to regain enough control. She’s aware now of hold cold she is, her body shivering but she is aware too of Ujinath’s tiredness and that brings a new wave of guilt. “Oh Ujinath…” she whispers, unbuckling herself to dismount with fumbling and trembling limbs but her apology is stopped mid sentence by the blue’s croon. She’s already been forgiven, not that he feels that she needs to apologize to start. He needs to rest and he’ll do that while Kiena comes to terms with the events that unfolded and sparked this whole “escape” to the outskirts.

Glancing out to the waters far below, Kiena is aware of Ujinath settling himself down and the proximity of his body to hers and without hesitation she steps back until her back is pressed against his chest, supported between it and his foreleg, which now comes to bend in front of him and effectively ‘cocooning’ her as his head lowers down to rest, one whirling eye focused on her and still laced with yellow among the blue and greens of their depths. Kiena, my heart, you’re not the woman he makes you seem to be and you know this. I know this. Don’t let his words poison you. I am what I am and you are what you are. It is not your fault that he is so deluded that he is blind to reason. Ujinath’s voice is calm, level and even and containing the warmth that so few, if any, ever witness. This is the summer sun and wind and love he reserves only for his rider and no other and Kiena reluctantly allows herself to be consumed by it, allow him to seal her away into the embrace of the bond they share as she lets go, only dimly aware of her tears and sobbing breaths as Ujinath buffers the worst of it and grieves and hurts with her.

Eventually her tears are exhausted and she sags against him, arms wrapping around herself as she allows the silence between them to stretch, the only sounds around her being that of Ujinath’s slow breathing, the wind and the sound of the waves below. It lulls her and she begins to warm up again, sheltered as she is against her lifemate and her trembling and shivering ceases. It is during that reflective moment that Kiena’s thoughts slow enough to allow her to come to a decision, one that flits by and is caught by her and held and as she begins to expand on it, Ujinath rumbles and exhales as though uncertain by what he can glimpse of her mind. Are you sure this is what you must do? Kiena, I don’t know if this is right. Perhaps to some, but at least go to Kalsuoth’s. Mur’dah will help you. In ways that he cannot and while once that used to spark jealousy in the blue, now he begins to see otherwise.

“Ujinath, I can’t do that to him. Not after everything…” Kiena’s voice catches and she has to stop, swallowing thickly as she shakes her head. “It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t need this worry to shoulder too. I love him too much to do that…” she admits and her lips curve into a faint, but sad, smile. She has to be strong for him and her protectiveness towards the brownrider has her wary of going to him now with her problems. It seems so selfish and wrong. In the wake of everything that has occurred, Kiena’s anxieties have her withdrawing into herself, despite Ujinath’s protests. Her personal problems no longer matter and she comes to the decision that she will not burden anyone with them. It will come back later to bite her, but for now Kiena is determined that this is the right thing to do.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Kiena whispers out loud as she settles herself comfortably against Ujinath, exhausted and weary and drained emotionally and mentally. There will be no flight back to their weyr tonight, but the bluerider does not mind staying here with her lifemate. She’ll continue on with her life, working with the searches, lending her support, fulfilling her duties to the Weyr and her Weyrleader. Being there for those who need it, for Mur’dah and for anyone but the matter of Cyrus she will leave to be settled by outside means. She’ll confirm reports, answer questions and oversee anything that needs to be done but beyond that she will not breathe a single word on a personal level. Not to Ka’el, not to Soriana and not to Kera and least of all to her own brother, Th’ero.

So Kiena will conceal her personal emotions in regards to the whole situation, shutting down that part of herself so that she can focus on the issues that matter most at this time. At least, that is how she sees it in her head, though Ujinath knows better but he does not stop her from taking this path. He will support her and do his best to protect her, but it will wear both of them down when the unresolved doubts and fears and hurt begin to poison her. Someday she will look back on this and realize how foolish she was to ever let herself think this was a wise decision or to allow herself to be ruled by her fears. At that moment, Kiena is determined NOT to run for help, tired of being the wounded girl and the drama that seems to follow her concerning personal matters. Tired of being weak… not this time. This time she will be stronger and sort it out on her own. She has before and that was when she was alone in the world and did not even have Ujinath there to turn to.

“I can do this, Ujinath. I won’t let him win and I won’t give up. I’ll push ahead and we’ll get through this.” Kiena promises and Ujinath only sighs, but offers his support and love all the same to his rider. You should try to rest. he tells her and Kiena nods, but even she knows that sleep will evade her. She’ll doze at times and maybe lightly sleep but not for very long before she’s drifting awake again or jolted back into reality. Kiena’s no stranger to insomnia and Ujinath has seen it in his rider before and he does what he can to try and settle her mind, to coerce her and her body into following that natural course. That night it will fail, other nights it will succeed, but for this particular night she will sit alone with Ujinath in their secluded spot and when Kiena is awake and sleep evades with frustration looming, she will talk of other things and anything with her lifemate as she watches the stars and the sky. Hoping that it will allow her thoughts of Cyrus and all the old wounds raised from it to fade enough that she can find escape in sleep and start the next day, readied and her masks firmly set in place. No sleep comes, even as the horizon begins to lighten with the approach of dawn and so she finds her escape through idle talk until she feels collected and calm enough to return with Ujinath to the Weyr.

Life goes on and so must she.

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